A few days ago, a family friend posted a status on Facebook and encouraged his friends to share a line from their favorite praise and worship song that inspired them a lot. I added a comment and shared a few lines from Steve Green’s song “He Who Began a Good Work”. It is one of my favorite songs because it reminds me of Philippians 1:6 and how God continues to be gracious and faithful in my life despite my weaknesses and struggles.
The past two weeks have been quite difficult for me because I struggled with different things. One of the similarities that I noticed among my struggles was how I believed in lies and not in God’s Truth. Unintentionally, I allowed my mind linger on my insecurities, pride, past mistakes, failure in different aspects, and a bunch of other very discouraging thoughts.
It was crazy! But in spite of these, God encouraged me to draw closer to him especially when I don’t feel like doing so because I know that He is the only One who can make my heart right. Every time I got zapped by lies and negative thoughts, I humbled myself before God and lifted up my concerns and struggles to Him. In the process of doing so, He reminded me of a verse in the bible where it says:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. Buttake heart! I have overcome the world.” [John 16:33]
It was such a comfort to know that even though we may be attacked by our struggles constantly for the next days, years, and decades, we know that we are already victorious because of Jesus Christ.
“Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Romans 8:34-35,37-39]
Now, THAT is TRUTH — Truth that I need to hold on to moment by moment. :)
I’ve been listening to a song lately that best captures what was going on in my heart these past two weeks. I hope that you will be encouraged by it too.
“I am not my failures, I am not my flaws
I am not defined by my mistakes, Only by Your love.
But it’s a constant battle to believe what’s true
That Your love is unconditional no matter what I do.”
…would you still have to pay for it? Or would you simply receive it?
One of the prettiest things I’ve seen in Google Images is a picture of rainbow cupcakes. I guess there really is something about the combination of the colors: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet that sort of makes me smile. Interestingly, if you do some research in the internet or in books, you’ll find out that these colors have different meanings too. :)
This week, it has been raining like crazy here in Manila. Sorry to say, even though I wanted to, I was not able to see a rainbow after the rain. :( And it’s funny because somehow God told me “Hey, Nic. It’s okay if you didn’t see a rainbow. Why don’t you just make rainbow cupcakes instead? Just like the ones you saw in the internet.”, and boy did I smile. The next day, I went to the grocery and bought the ingredients that I needed to make the rainbow cupcakes.
I enjoyed my time preparing the batter of the rainbow cupcakes because my workplace in the kitchen looked so colorful. I couldn’t believe I was really making cupcakes because it actually seemed like I was just playing with paint. :)
After preparing the multi-colored batter of the rainbow cupcakes, I decided not to bake the rainbow cupcake batter first. I immediately went to my box of baking ingredients and gathered the following food colorings: Yellow, Black, Red, White, and Green. I did so because these colors remind me of something that was more beautiful than the rainbow; something that changed my life. I’ll be sharing more about these below.
I placed the cupcake paper liners in the baking pan and poured in one color at a time. :)
For the first layer, I poured in two tablespoons of the YELLOW batter.
It says in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
The bible didn’t say “For God SORT OF loved the world…” or “For God WAS FORCED to love the world…”. God clearly wanted me to remember how much He loves me; how much He wants me to have a personal relationship and a meaningful life with Him; and spend eternity with Him in Heaven.
And what’s cool about that is He didn’t say “For God so loved Nicole Obligacion only…”, He said HE LOVED THE WORLD, which includes you too! HE LOVES YOU and WANTS TO SPEND ETERNITY WITH YOU. :)
For the second layer, I poured in two tablespoons of the BLACK batter.
When ate Camille (my sister) went in the kitchen and saw the black colored cupcake batter, she immediately blurted out “WHAT?? BLACK? Why did you use black?” I just laughed and told her “Eh basta, you’ll see. Hehe.”
Personally, when I see black, God reminds me of darkness, emptiness, and the biggest problem on earth: SIN. Ate Camille was shocked when she saw the black cupcake batter. I guess it’s the same way too when God sees me enjoying or dwelling in sin.
When I fall into sin, it’s as if I can hear God telling me: “WHAT? You know that I love you so much, Nic, and I give you the freedom to choose. But why choose SIN?” Sadly, that’s reality. I admit that I am a sinner. I lied, I cheated, I stole, I did things that did not please God before. SIN. This is one big problem because…
Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death…”
Sin separates us from God. As hard as it sounds, the payment for our sins is death. The Bible even talks about two kinds of death: The first is physical (we all know this); but did you know, the second one is actually spiritual death? (This is eternal separation from God :( ) (Revelation 21:8 “…This is the second death.”)
Years ago, when I first heard about this, I started to feel bothered because I knew I’ve done so many wrong things in the sight of God. I just felt so ashamed before God. He has been so good to me and there I was sinning in front of Him. However, one of the many things that I am grateful for is the word “BUT” in the Bible. Why? Because Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God uses the word “BUT” here to remind me of hope and of His grace, which leads me to the third layer.
For the third layer, I poured in two tablespoons of the RED batter.
The color red reminds me of the blood of Jesus when He paid the penalty of our sin by dying on the cross.
When the red batter was poured in the cupcake liner, God reminded me of the hope that I have in Him. I realized that I really cannot pay for the penalty of my sin, no matter what I try to do (good works, religion, other efforts…).
This is because of Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is BY GRACE that you have been SAVED through FAITH – and THIS NOT FROM YOURSELVES, it is the GIFT of GOD – NOT by WORKS, so that no one can boast.”
I thought about it before and realized that even if I did try to save myself and try to go to heaven (after dying) through my own ways, such as doing good works (or others), how will I know when I’ve done enough already to save me? There is no security. There is no assurance. My efforts will not be enough to save me from the penalty of my sin. I really cannot save myself. ONLY ONE can save me. ONLY ONE can save us all. And that ONE is JESUS CHRIST.
John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus did not say “I am A way and A truth and A life.” He is not an option. He is the only solution. Also, 1 Corinthians 15:3-6 shows us that Christ’s resurrection proves that He is the Son of God, the Messiah, and the only Savior. It brings me to tears to know that someone took my place on the cross to pay the penalty of my sin, which is death.
Jesus didn’t deserve to die and yet He did because He loves us so much. So, what must we do now that we know: how much God loves us, how we have sinned, how Jesus is the only way for us to spend eternity with God in Heaven?
We must choose to be reconciled with God and accept the gift of God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Jesus is personally inviting all of us to restore our relationship with Him. Years ago, I made a decision to fully surrender my life to Jesus, I admitted that I am a sinner and I cannot save myself; I believed that He died to pay the penalty of my sin and He rose again; I accepted Him as my personal Lord and Savior; and I claimed Jesus free gift of forgiveness and eternal life.
If it’s your desire to have a restored relationship with God, I’d like to encourage you to tell God everything that’s in your heart right now. Even before we talk to Him, He actually already knows what we want to tell Him. Just like what I did years ago, you can also let him know the desire of your heart by praying to Him; admitting that you are a sinner and cannot save yourself; believing that Jesus died to pay the penalty of your sins and that He rose again; receiving Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior; and claiming his free gift of forgiveness and eternal life.
For the fourth layer, I poured in two tablespoons of the WHITE batter.
White represents cleanliness, purity, freedom, surrender, etc.
If you decided to sincerely place your trust in Jesus then I’d like to encourage you because…
YOU are 100% forgiven. All your sins are forgiven – past, present, and future. (Seen in Colossians 2:13)
You are a childof God and nothing will separate you from your heavenly Father. (John 1:12; Hebrews 13:5)
You are a new person! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
You will go to heaven. YUP! And you will live with God forever. Eternal life begins the moment you place your trust in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. (1 John 5:11-13)
For the last layer, I poured in two tablespoons of the GREEN batter.
The color green reminds me of GROWTH.
Now that I’ve surrendered my life to Him, I want to be able to maximize what He has given me to love Him and love others more. I want to grow more in my walk with Him. And I’d like to encourage you to do the same too! :)
Here are some of the things that we can do to GROW more in our relationship with Jesus:
Read the Bible regularly.
Talk to God through prayer.
Talk to others about Jesus and the free gift that He has given us. (Just like what I’m doing now: Sharing it through Cupcakes! )
Join Bible studies or groups of people who also want to grow in their relationship with God.
I didn’t want to let this day pass by without sharing to you what Jesus did and how God changed my life because I really, really, really, really, really, really, want to encourage you to KNOW HIM MORE. :)
I think it has been 5 years since I’ve fully surrendered my life to Christ. I actually grew up exposed to this truth, but I just didn’t really want to absorb it in my life back then. However, God changed my heart and life, and since then, I’ve been experiencing the best years of my life with Him.
Going back to my cupcakes, after preparing both batters, I finally baked them and placed vanilla buttercream frosting on top.
If I gave you these cupcakes for free, would you still have to pay for it? Or would you simply receive it?
God gave us the FREE GIFT of ETERNAL LIFE with Him through Jesus Christ. Would you still have to pay/work for it? Or would you simply receive it? :)
RECIPE: Billy’s Vanilla Cupcakes (featured in Martha Stewart’s Recipes)
INGREDIENTS FOR THE CUPCAKE BATTER:
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Line cupcake baking pan with paper liners.
Using an electric mixer, combine both types of flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined.
Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla.
With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients slowly.
Beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.
Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full.
Bake (for 17 to 20 mins), rotating pan halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Use a small spatula or a piping bag to frost tops of each cupcake.